ICARE Social Media Post October 2019

Male Breast Cancer Risk

Did you know? Beyonce’s father, Matthew Knowles, was diagnosed with breast cancer. He states, “we used to think this was only an issue for women, but this is male or female.” According to CBS news, “he is hoping that sharing his story as man with breast cancer will shine a light on the risk men can face.”

Surprisingly, less than 20% of women diagnosed with breast cancer who are at high risk for a BRCA mutation are tested. Even lower rates of genetic testing are seen among African Americans, who are less aware of their risk for a BRCA mutation.

Let’s talk facts. All men with breast cancer should be offered BRCA testing. 6-8% of men with breast cancer will have a BRCA2 mutation. Matthew’s children have a 50/50 chance of inheriting this BRCA2 mutation. Women with the mutation, have a 60-70% risk to develop breast cancer. The BRCA2 gene raises the chance for ovarian cancer in women, aggressive prostate cancer in men and pancreatic cancer in both sexes. See our previous post about new targeted treatment options for cancer patients with a BRCA2 mutation.

Genetic testing for inherited cancer genes (such as BRCA1/2) can be done through a simple blood or saliva sample. Detecting a mutation allows people to be proactive about their health by finding cancer early or preventing it all together.  Check out resources to ‘end the cycle of inherited cancer through research, education, and engagement’ at http://inheritedcancer.net/

ICARE Newsletter Winter 2017

How Does Having a Mother with Breast Cancer and a BRCA Mutation Affect Adolescent Girls?

A recent study compared psychosocial adjustment and risk perception among 11 to 19 year old daughters of women with breast cancer, comparing those with a BRCA mutation versus those without.1 The overall findings from the study were reassuring, suggesting that adolescent girls from BRCA-positive families had higher self-esteem and similar psychosocial adjustment compared to their peers without a family history of breast cancer. On the other hand, not surprisingly, girls from BRCA-positive families experienced more distress related to breast cancer and being susceptible to the disease compared to girls without a family history of breast cancer. Overall, study findings suggest there remains a need to better understand how being from a BRCA-positive family may impact adolescent girls, in order to develop strategies which address any psychosocial concerns that may be demonstrated.

1Bradbury AR, et ak. Psychosocial Adjustment and Perceived Risk Among Adolescent Girls From Families With BRCA1/2 or Breast Cancer History. J Clin Oncol. 2016 Oct 1;34(28):3409-16. PubMed PMID: 27551110.

ICARE Newsletter Winter 2016

The Importance of Sharing Genetic Test Results with Family Members

Once an individual has had genetic testing for inherited cancer predisposition this information could help their close family members.  For example, when a BRCA mutation or a mutation in another inherited cancer gene is found, it is important for close family members (with or without a diagnosis of cancer) to know so they too can be proactive with cancer risk management and prevention options if they are identified to also have the familial mutation.  It is usually up to the first individual in the family identified with a mutation to share their positive genetic test result with their relatives.  Unfortunately, prior US-based studies suggest low rates of testing among at-risk family members1 the reasons for which are unclear, although higher rates of testing among family members were reported in a study conducted in Spain.2

It is also important for individuals who are the first person in their family to have genetic testing for inherited cancer and receive a negative result to share their results with family members. This may help to prevent unnecessary testing in the family and/or clarify the meaning of their negative result.

Tools exist to help facilitate sharing of positive test results among family members. These tools include creating a ‘family sharing letter’ to briefly describe the mutation that was found, what it means, and where relatives can access more information. 

1Barsevick AM et al. J Fam Psychol. 2008 Apr;22(2):303-12. PMID: 18410217.
2Sanz J et al. Fam Cancer. 2010 Sep;9(3):297-304. PMID: 20091130.